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  • Une carrière de géographe au siècle des Lumières: Jean-Baptiste d’Anville by Lucile Haguet, Catherine Hofmann
  • Elisabeth Wallmann
Une carrière de géographe au siècle des Lumières: Jean-Baptiste d’Anville. Sous la direction de Lucile Haguet and Catherine Hofmann. (Oxford Studies in the Enlightenment, 2018:05.) Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2018. 544 pp., ill.

This edited volume, based on a 2012 conference at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, gives a detailed, carefully researched survey of the life and works of Jean-Baptiste d’Anville (1697–1782). Though hardly known today outside of specialist circles, Anville was one of the most influential geographers of the French Enlightenment, a well-connected member of several academies and learned societies in Paris, St Petersburg, and London, and, from 1773 onwards, first geographer to the king. In line with the broad nature of geography in the eighteenth century, the contributors explore Anville and his works from a variety of angles. These include: book history (the history of his maps and library); the history of diplomacy (his maps were used to settle international disputes, particularly in the Americas); and the history of knowledge and intellectual history (his ideas were used by Edward Gibbon and others). The volume is divided into four parts, each comprising three or four chapters. Chapters in the first part, on Anville’s early career, detail his modest background and astonishingly successful insertion into eighteenth-century patronage networks at the French and Portuguese courts. The second part examines Anville’s methods, positioned uneasily between new mathematical approaches, pioneered by the likes of the Cassinis, and older, humanist practices based on careful comparison of sources, both ancient and modern. As befits a savant whose ambition was to map the world, there are chapters on Anville’s use of (mostly medieval) Arab sources and on his maps of North America. The geographical focus is further extended in Part Three, which examines the reception of Anville in France, England, and Brazil. The latter chapter, by Íris Kantor, offers a fascinating examination of the uses of Anville’s maps during key moments of Brazil’s history. As Kantor analyses the uneven fate of his maps in 1798 and 1904, she draws together the methodological specificities of Anville’s maps, the social and [End Page 455] political contexts of their production, and the uses to which they were later put. The final part gives a meticulous overview of the fate of his library and collection of maps. The most substantial contribution to scholarship of the volume is its extensive use of previously little-known archival material, held mainly at the BnF, but also in archives elsewhere in France (Orne and La Corneuve) and Brazil. Given the importance of archival sources to the volume, the Annexe, which contains transcripts of several documents, as well as the extensive bibliography of primary sources, is useful. The Introduction might have provided more theoretical clarity on how the different disciplinary perspectives on Anville connect. This would have helped situate the chapters’ thorough examinations of Anville’s career and œuvre in relation to the now considerable scholarship on Enlightenment cartography and geography. Charles Withers’s work, for instance, is not cited; nor is that of Christian Jacob (although he has written a short Avant-propos). All in all, this volume convincingly makes the case for the inclusion of the multifaceted figure of Anville in our histories of Enlightenment knowledge.

Elisabeth Wallmann
University of Warwick


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